who are you?
I am a creator.
I write, speak, teach, direct, and coach on the creative process, becoming seen, heard, and known, and elevated and alive performance. I founded The Collective for Women Creators. I believe we are all miracles who forget we are miracles and that we were not born for boxes. I am dedicated to building a future we can’t wait to wake up to and bringing more three-dimensional women-driven stories, leadership teams, and art into the world.
what exciting projects are you working on right now?
We are currently working on expanding the Collective into an online membership program. I am working on a book of essays and directing my 72-year-old Dad in an experimental autobiographical cabaret.
Also, I am about to get married.
Is there a mantra, quote or prayer that you’re currently using?
Quote: So be it. See to it. And
Prayer = Please clear the blocks that are standing in the way of my next becoming.
Do you have a creative process you stick to?
I believe that we were born to flow, not stick. To that end, I have found that every project necessitates a new process. If we listen closely enough to the project, we figure out what kind of process we need. I mean this literally, by asking the project, or thing that is trying to be born: What do you need? How do you need me to show up? What requests do you have? If you are brave enough to listen, the process will tell you what you need to know about how to be its custodian. It may say write for 1 hour every morning or it may say dance or it may say go to this place and have a retreat. It may give you an answer that seemingly does not have anything to do with the project.
One of my favorite creative thinkers, director Ann Bogart says that sometimes we have to go in through the back door of a project. The project may give you a back door option. You will resist and kick and scream a bit and look for secrets or hacks but you can save yourself time and just do what the project says. Our challenge as creators is not to superimpose an old process on a new project. But it worked the last time, we say. Remembering that creativity is an unpredictable and wild mistress really helps me. We must cultivate joy in discovering a new way every time, or we will be forever treading water on the continuum between stale and frustrated.
The other important part about process for me is giving myself liberty to work on a few projects at once, though not too many. The messaging of do one thing / stick to one thing / don’t do anything else until you finish this inundates us, but this is only good advice for a certain type of brain. I don’t have that brain, and in my experience most women creatives and entrepreneurs I know don’t have that kind of brain. Many of us are in the habit of being lead by a kind of advice that comes from a linear, hetero-normative masculine brain and we try to shove ourselves into what it tells us to do do and then feel shame and not enough-ness — like the Patriarchy teaches us to feel — because we can’t do it.
Giving myself permission to be a nonlinear duck meant I stopped berating myself for toggling between a few projects in any given period, having few (well, maybe more than a few) tabs open on my computer, and working on 2-4 projects in any given season. I have learned that the projects talk to each other, cross-pollinate, and enrich everything I am doing. It takes longer to finish all of them, but I know of no other way to work and also be true to myself. When I am nearing the ends of projects, I try to arrange concentrated sprints that focus very specifically on one thing, because completion takes great focus for me. This last part is still very much a growing edge.
I do wake up as early as possible and write every morning with consistency. This practice is necessary for my spiritual, mental, and creative health. What I write and how I get into it depends on the project.
Did you always know you wanted to do the work you do? If so, how did you know? If not, what led you where you are?
I didn’t know the work I do now existed when I was starting out, so, no — but when I was little I wanted to be a cat + ballerina + business-woman named Sally. Tracing it back, multi-facetedness and wild creativity has always been in my DNA.
The thing that led me to where I am was relentlessly listening to my inner guidance and trusting the unbearable ANGST. Almost everything awesome in my life has resulted from periods of epic and nearly paralyzing angst. I am talking about these operatic moments on the bathroom floor and when we are sobbing on a crowded subway car or wandering aimlessly around the streets of a city wondering why we’ve turned out so wrong.
Also—relentlessly asking and paying attention to what makes me come alive.
The other thing that led me to where I am now is the discovery and then continual permission that I am having an episodic career organized around a series of questions rather than stamping myself as a fixed identity or singular title that never felt like home. This perspective liberated me to rigorously develop a group of skills because they are necessary pathways to investigating the questions of my life, and empowered me to make clear decisions about which projects I am meant to be working on.
So: angst and rigorous everything and breaking rules and writing new ones.
What advice would you give to someone that’s just starting out?
1. Instead of reading a million books and articles about creativity, do the difficult work to wiggle around in your creative process until you start to find something that works for you. Then show up relentlessly when you would rather do online shopping or even the dishes.
2. Your weirdest idea is usually your best idea. Paraphrasing and recycling others’ ideas will get you quick followers and likes but it’s not the big work you were born to do. The online world suffers from plagiarism, vapidity, and lack of a strong ethical spine. Be the exception. You may not rise as fast but you will rise sustainably.
3. Do not wait for your ducks in a row. Your ducks are most likely some degree of nonlinear, which means you will wait forever. Ducks in flow is more fun than ducks in a row.
4. The secret that everyone forgot to tell you is that it is you. You are the secret.
5. Usually that there is a small group of people whose opinions you care deeply about that you need to stop caring deeply about, that are holding you back profoundly. It’s often a few people you grew up with, or family, or the alumni magazine of a school you went to, or a teacher who thought you were going to become someone else. It’s often subconscious but your paralyzing fear of letting them down suppressed and squeezes your boldest work. Task yourself with figuring out who these people are, do some kind of letting go ceremony if you need to, and then apply the giving less f*cks advice that all of the Instagram posts tell you to do. Then remember that it is okay to give very big f*cks about the people who matter. You just need to get clear on who they are.
6. Loneliness is a part of doing anything brave. Don’t organize your life around trying to avoid it or you will never do your big work. When you feel lonely, know that you are in the company of the geniuses on whose shoulders you stand.
7. But / and: success happens in communion, not isolation, so find and prioritize community who make sense to your intersections and connect with them especially on the days you want to hide.
8. Jealousy and comparison will happen because you are a feeling person and not a robot. Your job is to learn how to use them as pathways to your next level of greatness. I’ve always found “stay in your own lane” to be dazzling sounding but impossible to execute advice. You are jealous of people because they have cultivated something in themselves that you have not yet given yourself full permission to cultivate. Label feelings of comparison or jealousy as healthy reminders of your humanity and guideposts to your next becoming and then cultivate wonder and curiosity by asking: What is the hot desire underneath this constricting jealousy? What qualities in me are longing to be called forth?
9. Be willing to give up your childhood dream for the adult you are meant to become. This means you have to shower that sweet little one clinging onto an older idea with all the compasion you can muster. There will most likely be a grieving process. And then get creative about how to bring your child along for the next ride.
10. Stop letting your limitations be what make you unique. Allowing yourself to identify or feel special because you have bad imposter syndrome, or are terrible at networking, or are really hard on yourself become excuses for doing your best and advocating for your work. The past is not the present, and the brain is neuroplastic; you can find your edge with all of these patterns and behave your way into a new way of thinking and being. The most interesting thing about you is not your perfectionism, so stop leading with that.
11. You are responsible for allowing yourself to be seen and heard. Nominate yourself and stop waiting for someone to break into your computer or studio and discover your genius work. Put yourself on the hook and decide to be known.
12. Do one small but mighty brave thing a day.
I wrote this imagining my younger self was sitting across from me.
The other thing I would tell her is that most of the limiting patterns stem from conditioning — family of origin, environment, the organizing principles of patriarchal society— which are not her fault.
But it is her destiny to rewrite the story.